Mt Thielsen Adventure Photography

Over the past couple days, three friends, two pups, and I road tripped out to Central Oregon to tackle Mt Thielsen. It is perhaps one of the lesser known mountains in the Cascades range, but its unique features make it an exhilarating climb and a solid hike to check off the bucket list. The first thing that stands out about Mt Thielsen, standing in at just over nine thousand feet, is its precipitous cliffs faces and needle sharp summit. Now the core of an extinct volcano, Thielsen has been whittled away at by glacial ice creating cracks in its facade and shedding stones and boulders along it’s slopes. After setting up camp during our first night, we scrambled up the scree field to one of these glaciers and got a magnificent view of the valley below us. We were also treated to bunches of wild flowers that grew along streams that flowed down from the glaciers. The next day we woke at five in the morning so as to get an early start to our push to the summit. We made our approach via a ridge branching off from the Pacific Crest Trail, which is the only feasible route, short of using ropes, to get to the top given the the mountains sheer walls. From there the trail grew dusty from age old ash that has settle over the region and eventually transitioned into steep, slippery scree fields that upped the challenge of traversing the ridge line. Finally we reached what is known as the ominous Chicken’s Ledge, which sits about a hundred feet below the summit. It is called Chicken’s Ledge because those final one hundred feet are a near vertical wall with exposed sheer drop offs on either side, the mountain’s base many thousands of feet below. So many climbers understandably opt to sit out the climb and enjoy the beautiful view from the ledge instead. Despite the verticality of the wall, there were thankfully enough solid handholds and cracks to wedge yourself between to make the summit doable using some modest bouldering techniques. Even still, it was a major adrenaline rush and a bit vertigo inducing, and by the time I reached the top, I won’t lie, I felt like I might throw up. — KC